Mineral Waters

Mineral water is a type of spring water, sold in bottles.


In Italy, only water that meets the criteria of the law established by Legislative
Decree No. 176 of 8 October 2011 (implementation of directive 2009/54/EC), can be sold
with the wording mineral water, which states: «Natural mineral waters are waters which, having their origin
from an underground aquifer or deposit, come from one or more natural or drilled springs
and which have particular hygienic characteristics and, possibly, favorable properties
to health». For drinking water, the last two specifications (hygienic characteristics
a nd health properties) are not required. The bottled mineral water market
has particular importance in Italy, which clearly leads the ranking of world per capita consumption
, with volumes that have tripled since 1985 (65 liters per capita per year)
to 2006 (194 liters per year) roughly the same figure was recorded in 2012,
with 192 liters of per capita consumption, and a total volume of 12.4 billion litres.
According to data available as of 2014, the turnover in Italy is estimated at about
2.3 billion euro, for a production sector that sees 156 companies at work.
The sector's profits, in Italy, are judged "very high", also by virtue of the
exploitation fees, of variable amounts from area to area, but generally considered
very advantageous. The environmental impact is also significant, linked to the transport
of about 6 billion bottles and their subsequent disposal: in Italy alone,
an estimate by Legambiente and Altreconomia provides a figure of over 6 billion
of 1.5 liter plastic bottles, with the use of "450 thousand tons of oil
and the emission of over 1.2 million tons of CO2". According to the AMGA Foundation,
in Italy there are 514 different labels, while according to other sources
even 608 (a 2014 Legambiente report estimates the existence of 296 brands).


According to Italian law, marketable mineral waters can be divided into various
categories as indicated by a legislative decree of 1992:
minimally mineralized waters: the fixed residue at 180 °C is less than 50 mg/l.
oligomineral waters (or slightly mineralized): the fixed residue is between 50 and 500 mg/l.
mineral waters: the fixed residue is between 500 and 1500 mg/l.
waters rich in mineral salts: the fixed residue is higher than 1500 mg/l.

For waters whose fixed residue is between 500 and 1500 mg/l, the decree does not provide
nomenclature indications. There are also other categories, always provided for by the decree,
linked to the concentration of specific mineral salts: containing bicarbonate, if
the bicarbonate is greater than 600 mg/l; sulphate, if the sulphates are higher than 200 mg/l;
chlorinated, if the chloride is higher than 200 mg/l;
calcium, if the calcium is higher than 150 mg/l;
magnesium, if the magnesium is higher than 50 mg/l;
fluoride, if the fluoride is higher than 1 mg/l;
ferruginous, if the bivalent iron is higher than 1 mg/l;
acidic, if the free carbon dioxide is higher than 250 mg/l;
sodium, if sodium is higher than 200 mg/l;
indicated for low-sodium diets, if sodium is less than 20 mg/l;


In Italy, mineral water containers must bear the indication of

natural mineral water, possibly supplemented with a classification
based on the carbon dioxide content.

totally degassed if the free carbon dioxide
present at the source has been totally eliminated;

partially degassed, if the free carbon dioxide present
at the source has been partially eliminated;

reinforced with gas from the source, if the content of free carbon dioxide,
coming from the same aquifer or reservoir, is higher than that of the source;

addition of carbon dioxide, if carbon dioxide not taken from the same aquifer or reservoir has been added to the natural mineral water;

naturally carbonated or naturally effervescent, if the content of free carbon dioxide
over 250 mg/l is the same as that of the source;

the denomination of the natural mineral water and the name of the spring
and the place where it is used;

the indication of the analytical composition, resulting from the analyzes
carried out, with the characteristic components;

the date on which the analyzes were carried out and the laboratory
where these analyzes were carried out;

the nominal content;

the holder of the regional authorization for the use of water;

the minimum conservation term;

the lot identification wording;

information about some possible separation treatments
of chemical elements.

Other indications, possibly contained on the labels, are permitted, but not required by law.

Analytical parameters and legislation


The bottling plants use the water from a spring. The
technique is simple and entirely automated: the bottles, carefully washed and sterilized,
pass on a conveyor belt to the filling machines, fed with water
from the spring (this is added with carbon dioxide to the "carbonated" type),
then they pass on to the capping and labeling machines. It should be noted that many operations on mineral waters are not
permitted: for example, they can be decanted
to eliminate certain compounds such as iron and sulfur and of course add carbon
dioxide, but it is not at all permissible to carry out drinking water or bactericides.

Mineral water and health

The mineral water market

The mineral water market is the example treated in Cournot's oligopoly model.
It is a market with marginal variable cost, equal to that of the bottle alone.
The main cost item in the price of water is that of transport,
and as in the case of aqueducts, even for mineral water it makes little sense
from a logistical point of view, transport hundreds of kilometers away, if not in other countries.
The least expensive waters are therefore those bottled locally. (source Wikipedia)

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